TPHS grad realizes dream with ‘Notehall’
By Marlena Medford
When Sean Conway graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002, he knew exactly what he wanted to do next.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur, that was the goal from the very beginning,” he said. “I used to drive around Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar and think to myself, ‘I want to own a house just like these one day.’”
Now, at the ripe age of 27, Conway is well on his way to realizing those adolescent daydreams.
Upon graduating from the University of Arizona in 2009, Conway and his classmate Justin Miller launched Notehall, an online marketplace for college students who want to buy and sell class notes. The pair soon after brought on D.J. Stephan and Fadi Chalfoun to help run the company, who also attended the University of Arizona.
“The concept of entrepreneurship in the classroom is interesting,” he said. “I have [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], so in college, I had a note-taker. When other people would hear that, they’d always tell me that they wished they had their own note-taker. I realized it made sense to offer the service. Besides, why not financially reward students who have the talent of taking good notes? This is a way college students can earn some extra money.”
In 2009 Notehall earned Conway and his crew a spot on “Shark Tank,” an ABC reality TV show that gives up-and-coming entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs.
“The night our episode aired, we had 30,000 visitors flood our website within a few minutes. We were the number one Google search that day. It was so exciting.”
And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, that same week Notehall’s executive team was named on Business Week’s annual list of “Best Young Entrepreneurs.”
Today, Notehall offers its service to 65 schools, and though it now has more than 300,000 users, Conway said he hopes to at least double that number within a year. TechCrunch.com recently reported that, according to industry buzz, Notehall is being acquired by Chegg, a textbook rental company, for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock. Though Conway said he was not at liberty to comment on the possible deal, he did affirm that he’s committed to the core concept of Notehall. He also offered a few pearls of wisdom for any other Torrey Pines High School students who, like him, may be out cruising the neighborhood, doing a little daydreaming of their own.
“If you want to be an entrepreneur, start young, start now. Start when you don’t have bills and you’re living in your parents’ home. You’ll learn a lot, and trust me, it’s worth it.”
For more information about Conway and Notehall, check out Notehall.com.
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